Vermont Veterans Home

A complaint filed by Ismina Francois in 2016 has put a magnifying glass on working conditions for employees of color at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Berlin.
Jane Lindholm / VPR File

While allegations of racial harassment at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin made news last week, records show that they were hardly isolated incidents: The state regularly fields complaints of race-based harassment and discrimination at agencies across state government.

Pacific NW Gardener / Flickr

The Vermont Veterans' Home is offering up free garden plots to veterans in the Bennington area. The new Vermont Veteran's Community Garden takes root May 1.

Last year, Veterans Affairs whistleblowers said that patients were dying because they didn't have access to medical care at the nation's VA hospitals. They also claimed that officials at some hospitals were falsifying records to make it look like wait times were not as bad as they really were.

There was some good news recently for Vermont's only state home for veterans. Vermont House members in Montpelier voted to fund the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington with $5.4 million from the state's General Fund.

When Governor  Peter Shumlin announced that the state was facing a $100 million dollar deficit earlier this year, one thing placed immediately on the chopping block was funding for the Vermont Veterans' Home in Bennington.

Last week the board of the Veterans' Home met to discuss cost saving measures. They decided to reduce their capacity from 170 beds to 130. That will lower their Medicaid tax burden by $200,000 dollars. The home will also save money by not filling 13 open positions. But that still leaves them over $2 million dollars in the hole.

The report was prepared by the State Agency of Administration. Its goal is to develop a plan for eliminating the home’s need for state subsidies by 2018. The study attributes recent shortfalls in part to a low census. The facility is budgeted for 171 beds but typically has fewer than 130 residents.

But Steve Howard of the Vermont State Employees Association, which represents workers at the home, says downsizing isn’t the answer.